Paleo and Fiber

A few questions that come up frequently when someone is looking to transition to a paleo lifestyle are related to fiber:

  • How will I get enough fiber if there are no grains allowed?
  • Don’t “whole grains” and fiber help fight cholesterol?
  • Don’t I need a certain amount of fiber in order to stay regular?
  • What are the best sources of fiber if I’m going paleo?
  • Fiber helps keep me full and is good for weight loss, right?

A lot of the information you’ll read about fiber is not far off base – fiber does help with satiety, constipation, and regular bowl movements, cholesterol, and a whole host of other ailments. In this article, we’ll answer some of the questions above.

What is fiber?

You can break fiber down into three main sources: soluble, insoluble, and resistant starches. No single source is better than any other, and all are valuable in their own way when it comes to having a well-rounded nutrition plan. Most food that contains fiber contains both soluble and insoluble fiber.

Fiber is an indigestible type of carbohydrate often found in the cell walls of plants, making it readily available in many fruits and vegetables. You’ve probably read or been influenced by many “health expertswill know that the benefits of fiber rich whole grains do not outweigh the damage and disruption they can do to the lining of your gut. Below you’ll find some recommendations as to how you can get your fiber in, protect your gut, and still stay paleo.

Soluble fiber: This dissolves easily in fluids, is known to lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL), and helps to regulate blood sugar. Soluble fiber also slows down stomach emptying, which can help to keep you feeling full longer. This type of fiber may also help your body to absorb certain vitamins and minerals. That said, it can also keep other important vitamins and minerals from being absorbed (more on this later).

  • Traditional sources of soluble fiber: Oatmeal, lentils, psyillium, beans, and oat bran
  • Paleo friendly sources of soluble fiber: Strawberries, nuts, seeds, cucumbers, celery, carrots, blueberries, apples with the skin on, sweet potatoes, yams, and other root vegetables

Insoluble fiber: This does not dissolve easily in liquids, and has a laxative-like effect because it adds bulk to stool.

  • Traditional sources of insoluble fiber: Wheat and wheat based products, legumes, corn bran, and veggies like green beans
  • Paleo friendly sources of insoluble fiber: Cabbage, beets, carrots, and Brussels sprouts

Resistant starches: These starches are not digested in the small intestine, and are found in potatoes, pasta, unripe bananas, and various legumes like navy beans. They can also come in the form of non-digestible carbohydrate sources typically extracted from plants or animals, and then manufactured: psyillium husks, fructooligosaccharides, and polydextrose for example.

Fiber, your gut, and digestion issues

Fiber plays a very important role in proper digestion. It can help to feed the healthy bacteria that your gut needs in order to run optimally. Because over 70% of the body’s immune system is found in your gut, proper care is needed in order to become or remain a healthy individual.

If you’re suffering from any of the following:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Headaches
  • Burping
  • Reflux
  • Fatigue after eating
  • Constant hunger
  • Irregular bowel movements
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Neck, or upper or lower back pain

The Standard American Diet, which is high in industrial seed oils like corn, cottonseed, and safflower, Omega-6 fatty acids, and inflammatory foods like wheat products containing gluten, coupled with modern medicines and antibiotics, has nearly destroyed our guts. Add on stress, hormonal imbalances, pregnancy, and thyroid complications due to the modern lifestyle, and you have yourself a recipe for poor gut flora and broken digestive systems.

One way you can begin to fix your gut health and digestive system is by eliminating toxic foods:

  • Cereal grains (especially refined flour)
  • Omega-6 industrial seed oils (corn, cottonseed, safflower, soybean, etc.)
  • Sugar (especially high-fructose corn syrup)
  • Processed soy (soy milk, soy protein, soy flour, etc.)

Many of us have various food sensitivities, with some of the more common culprits being dairy and gluten. Removing some of these items, and including fermentable foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir might just do the trick in restoring some healthy gut bacteria.

You can also help to improve your health by including the right kinds and amounts of fiber.  The Institute of Medicine recommends around 38 grams of fiber for men, and 25 grams for women on average per day. Although it is not entirely necessary to hit these numbers, a paleo approach to eating will get you pretty darn close if it doesn’t exceed them.

A 1,000 calorie serving of fruits and vegetables will provide you with roughly two to seven times the amount of fiber than whole grains would. Plus, most of this fiber is from soluble sources which are more beneficial in that they feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. Soluble fiber ferments in the gut, and turns into short chain fatty acids that, in turn, help to grow, and feed healthy bacteria.

By including more green leafy veggies, root vegetables, and tubers like sweet potato and carrots, as well as low sugar fruits like berries, you can not only add more fiber to your diet, and improve gut health, but improve vitamin and mineral uptake and absorption. Because of phytates and gluten found in foods like beans and various wheat-based products, many vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, and zinc can go unabsorbed.

The vegetables and occasional fruits on a paleo diet supply more than enough fiber to your body. Actually, ¾ cups of cooked broccoli would supply you with seven grams of fiber and only 30 calories, while it would take two slices of “whole grain” that equal 120 calories to supply the same amount of fiber.

Constipation and regular elimination
If staying regular with your bowels is a major concern, I suggest first taking a look at your water consumption. Dehydration or a lack of water is usually to blame for a poor digestive system. It is also very possible that the grains, dairy, and legumes you were used to eating caused leaky gut. The best way to combat this is by removing the foods most harmful to the digestive tract like industrial seed oils, grains, dairy, and legumes, and by allowing the good bacteria and intestinal flora to reset themselves, and repair the gut lining.

75% of stool is dry weight or dead bacteria, which means that fiber is not needed for bulk and elimination. It can definitely assist, but is not a requirement.  As long as your body maintains healthy gut flora, and you stay away from food that body does not tolerate well, and high fructose foods like soda, honey, agave, breakfast cereals and bars, and processed snacks, you should be able to avoid constipation, gas, and bloating.

Fiber supplementation
Many so-called health experts recommend taking supplementary fiber products to assist with weight loss, the lowering of cholesterol, and constipation. The problem with this is that your body, or, more specifically, your colon, can become addicted to these products, and require more and more of them.

If you are following a lower carbohydrate diet, and are struggling with the regularity of your bowel movements and cholesterol, first try slowly increasing your water intake by about eight ounces per day. Then think about adding in more starchy and fermentable foods like sweet potatoes and carrots. Finally, if those things do not help, or if you have blood sugar issues, and can not include starchy carbohydrates, think about adding in a soluble fiber supplement like Organic Acacia Fiber, or a prebiotic like Klaire Labs Biotagen. In both cases, begin supplementation with a very low dose, and gradually increase weekly or bi-weekly.

Fiber and cholesterol
This might be the one thing that frustrates me more than anything else in the world of nutrition. I would like to kick the people who started this rumor in their junk. I just want to touch on a couple things here.

  • Cholesterol is not bad. Your body actual needs it in order to operate efficiently. Cholesterol is used to make cell membranes, which are used to help every single cell in your body move, and interact with the other cells.
  • The cholesterol you eat has almost nothing to do with the cholesterol in your blood. You ingest cholesterol, and create your own cholesterol every day. Roughly 25% of your daily cholesterol is from the food that you eat, and the other 75% is actually made by your body. Most of the cholesterol you eat and produce every day resides in your cell membranes. It is actually serving a purpose.
  • Cholesterol in your blood doesn’t mean cholesterol in your arteries. When you get your cholesterol checked, what is measured is the amount of cholesterol in the blood. The truth is that there is no way of knowing if that cholesterol is going to end up in your arteries or not.
  • Most of the cholesterol you eat is pooped out. There is no other way to put it really. Most cholesterol you eat is not absorbed – it leaves the body in your stool.

Actual causes of heart disease are rooted in inflammation. This is due mostly to the overconsumption of Omega-6 fats from grains, vegetable oils, and grain-fed animals. One way you can help to combat this is by eliminating these foods from your diet, and including more healthy Omega-3 fats from wild-caught salmon, supplementing with fish oil, and eating more grass-fed beef and lamb.

Instead of counting up fiber grams, mixing up high fiber supplement shakes, taking in absurd amounts of grains or legumes, or searching for fake foods with added fiber, instead get back to eating real food. Emphasize green leafy vegetables, lower sugar fruits like berries, and fermentable starchy carbs like sweet potatoes and carrots, increase that water intake, get regular exercise, and, for Pete’s sake, get your rest, and practice proper stress-relieving techniques like meditation. Not only will that keep you regular – it’ll keep you healthy, happy, and fit as well.

Bonus: If you’re looking to get your digestive system on track, try our 7 Day Meal Plan.

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How To Make A Green Smoothie

This is a contribution from Vic Magary of GreenSmoothieRecipeBook.com.  Be sure to get his Top 5 Green Smoothie Recipes by clicking here.

greensmoothie1As a paleo diet fan, you likely eat more vegetables than most people.  Broccoli and asparagus are probably in your regular meal rotation.  And the leafy greens of spinach and kale also show up on your dinner table from time to time.  But what about other leafy greens such as chard, collards, turnips, or even carrot greens?

Many of us duck away from eating a wide variety of greens for one simple reason – they taste bitter as hell.  We know they pack a serious vitamin and mineral punch, but getting past the bitter taste can be a challenge.  And that’s where the green smoothie comes to the rescue.  Not only can green smoothies make getting those greens palatable, but they can also be a source of healthy fats and even protein.  So, get ready to fire up that high-speed blender as I take you through the steps of how to make a green smoothie.

Step 1: Get Your Greens.

You can’t have a “green” smoothie without greens.  As I mentioned above, use the green smoothie as an opportunity to get some variety with your greens choices.  Here is a list of greens that you may want to try:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Chard
  • Collards
  • Rapini
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Turnip Greens
  • Mustard Greens
  • Carrot Greens
  • Arugula
  • Romaine
  • Cilantro
  • Mint
  • Parsley

The cilantro, mint, and parsley are best used as additions to the other greens such as kale, spinach, or chard.  Same thing for the arugula and romaine lettuces.  I often use a combination of at least two greens when I make a green smoothie.

Step 2: Find Your Fruit.

Fruit is the “spoonful of sugar” that helps the medicine of the greens go down.  And make no mistake, fruit is high in sugar (fructose).  And, for that reason, we want to use only enough to make the green smoothie taste good, but not too good.  When you first start drinking green smoothies, you might start out using more fruit.  But over time, you’ll want to gradually reduce the amount of fruit, and increase the amount of healthy greens.  Here are some fruits that go great in green smoothies:

  • Pineapple
  • Banana
  • Mango
  • Pomegranate
  • Kiwi
  • Apple
  • Peach
  • Orange
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Blueberry
  • Strawberry
  • Raspberry
  • Blackberry

The kind of fruit you use is limited only by your imagination.  Have fun experimenting with different fruit-and-greens combinations, but go light on the sweeter fruits such as pineapple, banana, and mango, and lean more towards grapefruit and berries.

Step 3:  Bring On The Fat.

As a paleo fan, I know you have no misguided fears about eating healthy sources of fat.  And two of the favorite fat sources go great in green smoothies:  avocado and coconut oil.

Adding half an avocado to a green smoothie will give it an awesome creamy texture.  And a tablespoon of coconut oil will add a subtle tropical flavor which is not nearly as pronounced as you might imagine when combined with the other ingredients. I’ll often include both avocado and coconut oil in my green smoothies.

Nuts can also add some healthy fat to your green smoothies.  A small handful of almonds or walnuts blends up fine as long as you keep the quantity “small”.  And if you blur the lines of paleo and consume some dairy, full fat Greek yogurt will provide a smooth texture and some healthy bacteria.

Step 4:  Protein Power.

As you can imagine, we’re not going to blend up a ribeye steak into our green smoothie.  But another protein powerhouse goes great with the green smoothie: raw eggs.  If you have concerns with eating raw eggs, simply leave them out of your smoothie.  Personally, I often drop two raw eggs into the blender with the other ingredients, and have never had any issues.

Putting it all together…

Looking for an example of a green smoothie recipe?  Check out the video below and the ingredient list that follows:

Ingredients:

  • Large bunch of kale
  • 2 kiwis
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 orange
  • 2 raw eggs
  • Ice and water to blend to desired consistency

Other Green Smoothie Tips

So, now that we have the basic steps for making a green smoothie, here are a few other tips to keep in mind:

Use a high-speed professional grade blender.  Yes, they are quite pricey.  But if you are serious about green smoothies, you really only have two blender choices: Vitamix or Blentec.  You can try searching Craigslist or Ebay for a deal on a used model, but they are pretty tough to find.  Once people invest in a quality blender, they usually hang on to them.

Freeze your ingredients.  When I buy a bunch of kale or collards, I’ll wash them, and then place them in freezer bags.  Keeping the greens in the freezer helps them last longer, and gives your smoothie a nice texture.  Buying frozen fruit is another good way to make sure you always have green smoothie ingredients on hand.

Get creative!  Green smoothies provide a great opportunity to try new fruits and vegetables.  Whether it’s rainbow chard or papaya, experimenting with new ingredients keeps your green smoothies interesting.

When you’re ready to increase your leafy greens intake but don’t want to deal with the bitter taste, blend up a delicious green smoothie.  And remember to compliment those greens with a little bit of fruit, some healthy fats, and maybe even an egg or two.  Now go drink your greens!

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The Many Types of Paleo

Is [insert your food here] paleo? 

That’s probably the number one question we get around here – after all – this is the .

There’s a lot of grey areas – and even in our food list - while it’s pretty comprehensive doesn’t cover all the different variances within the different paleo camps. In an attempt to try & solve this once & for all, we sat down with our favorite graphic designer and put together this comparison chart of the different stances of various paleo camps.

While we don’t dive deep into this chart exactly WHY each camp acts the way they do, it will give you a nice 30,000 ft overview of what “camps” of paleo eat different things.

Now, this chart isn’t definitive by any means, but it is one heck of a good start and does quite a bit to demistify the differences between the different paleo camps. Check it out below, share & pin it on your favorite sites and let us know what you think!

The Many Types of Paleo

Types of Paleo

What type of paleo do you follow? Or, have you made up your own version of paleo?

Also, be sure to share & pint the graphic above if you liked it.

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Reddit Releases Paleo Cookbook & Recipes

Reddit’s paleo community – one of our favorite communities on the web – just released a brand new Paleo Iron Chef Cookbook – and we have to say – it’s pretty darn cool. All in all, this cookbook contains

  • 20 food categories
  • 138 recipes & pages
  • 140+ pictures
  • …all in 1 cookbook!

You can download the cookbook files at the links below:

Reddit Paleo Iron Chef Cookbook

If you’re still looking for more , check out the following paleo cookbooks as well.

You can also subscribe to our email list and get a bunch of free paleo resources.

Paleo Cookbooks via Reddit

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Paleo Diet Food List Infographic

Want a better paleo diet food list to take with you grocery shopping? Well, we’ve got you covered.

Okay okay, we already have the most comprehensive paleo diet food list on the planet. We get it. But, for some reason – you guys just can’t get enough of it. So, we gave in and created a whole new food list – this time in fantastic infographic form. Bigger, badder, and prettier than ever – so yeah – we’re pretty pumped about it.

It’s pretty extensive, so we’ll stop talking and just let you take a look at it and download (and pin it) away.

Paleo Diet Food List Infographic

Paleo Diet Food List Infographic

Paleo Diet Food List

If you’d like to post this on your own site, just copy & paste the html below. Eat up and share it with a friend!

You can also right click on the image and download pdf and put it on your refigerator. If you’re a big facebook fan, feel free to share it on facebook, twitter or pin it on pinterest like a madman (and we’ll love you forever).

Again, the basics of any list of paleo food is meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and eggs. Avoid lots of sugar or over-processed foods as well as low quality meat. If you can get these basics down, then it becomes much, much easier to continue following a solid paleo diet lifestyle.

For more, check out our complete infographic here and check our our complete paleo diet food list here.

If you liked this, check our our guide to paleo pancakes, our paleo shopping list and our personalized paleo coaching program. You can also check out our paleo breakfast ideas and sign up by email for our free paleo diet starter kit.

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The Periodic Table of Meat

The Periodic Table of Meat

One of our favorite genres of paleo food is meat. Needless to say, we really, really enjoyed this funny take on the “periodic table of meat.” Our favorite footnote? Bacon is the meat of life – without bacon – life as we know it would cease to exist.

periodic-table-of-meat

 

via Pleated Jeans

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What The Hell Is A Legume?

You might be wondering what the hell a legume is. Let us explain.

A legume is a simple, dry fruit contained within a shed or a pod. The most well-known legumes are peas, beans, peanuts, and alfalfa (we have a full list below).

Bean Legume

No, not THAT bean

Legume Index

Why Aren’t Legumes Paleo?

Phytates
Phytates bind up minerals in food, thereby preventing your body from utilizing them. This means these foods are not digested. They can also cause inflammation, bloating, indigestion, and gas. Yuck.

Lectins
Lectins are carb-binding proteins that are relatively “sticky.” They’re difficult for our bodies to break down and therefore cause indigestion. Their desire to bind also leads them to bind with your intestinal lining.

Lectins can also cause leaky gut syndrome, which is when the intestinal lining is broken down, allowing toxins and anti-nutrients to leak into the bloodstream.

Lectins are commonly associated with IBS, Chrohn’s disease, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and many other issues.

Bean Legumes

Okay, But Besides That…

Legumes don’t tend to have great nutritional profiles. They’re not bad but they’re not great.

They tend to have a high carbohydrate content for what they do provide. They’re not as bad as processed foods or grains but if weight loss is your goal, there are definitely much better (and paleo) choices out there for you.

What’s Good about Legumes?

Legumes are most famous for their protein content. They tend to be great sources of protein for non-meat eaters. They’re also great sources of minerals and fiber. Because of their fiber content, they don’t spike insulin levels and inhibit fat loss as grains and other simple carbohydrates do.

That said, they’re simply “okay” choices. They’re not the best foods and, while there’s variance in the nutrition provided by different legumes, you can certainly get all the nutrients they contain from other, superior choices. We recommend you do that.

Peanut Legumes

List of Legumes

  • Alfalfa
  • Asparagus bean
  • Asparagus pea
  • Baby lima bean
  • Black bean
  • Black-eyed pea
  • Black turtle bean
  • Boston bean
  • Boston navy bean
  • Broad bean
  • Cannellini bean
  • Chickpeas
  • Chili bean
  • Cranberry bean
  • Dwarf bean
  • Egyptian bean
  • Egyptian white broad bean
  • English bean
  • Fava bean
  • Fava coceira
  • Field pea
  • French green bean
  • Frijol bola roja
  • Frijole negro
  • Great northern bean
  • Green bean
  • Green and yellow peas
  • Kidney bean
  • Lentils
  • Lespedeza
  • Licorice
  • Lima bean
  • Madagascar bean
  • Mexican black bean
  • Mexican red bean
  • Molasses face bean
  • Mung bean
  • Mung pea
  • Mungo bean
  • Navy bean
  • Pea bean
  • Peanut
  • Peruvian bean
  • Pinto bean
  • Red bean
  • Red clover
  • Red eye bean
  • Red kidney bean
  • Rice bean
  • Runner bean
  • Scarlet runner bean
  • Small red bean
  • Snow pea
  • Southern pea
  • Sugar snap pea
  • Soybean
  • Wax bean
  • White vlover
  • White kidney bean
  • White pea bean

The Verdict

Are Legumes Paleo?

No.

Will they kill you? Probably not. They’re certainly better for you than grains but if you want to adhere to a strict paleo regimen, you’ll want to eliminate legumes from your diet.

Sources & References

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/legumes/NU00260
  2. http://jcem.endojournals.org/content/88/10/4857.abstract
  3. http://www.krispin.com/lectin.html
  4. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/lectins/
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legume

photo credit: Stuck in Customs | Chiot’s Run | ruurmo

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101 Paleo Diet Foods

sliced steak

Curious about which foods are paleo? We’ve put together a list of 101 of some of the most popular and tasty choices. Enjoy any combination of these for your next meal or snack!

Keep in mind that these are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to paleo foods. There are a lot more, which we’ve listed in our Paleo Diet Food List.

Meats

1. Chicken
2. Duck
3. Beef
4. Lamb
5. Bison
6. Rabbit
7. Turkey
8. Caribou
9. Elk
10. Goose
11. Quail
12. Salmon
13. Trout
14. Tuna
15. Bass
16. Halibut
17. Tilapia
18. Sunfish
19. Pike
20. Salmon
21. Cod

Eggs

22. All eggs

Shellfish

23. Lobster
24. Crabs
25. Clams
26. Shrimp
27. Oysters

Vegetables

28. Tomatoes
29. Peppers
30. Eggplant
31. Onions
32. Broccoli
33. Celery
34. Leeks
35. Artichokes
36. Avocados
37. Lettuce
38. Cabbage
39. Spinach
40. Beets
41. Chard
42. Bok choy
43. Radishes
44. Carrots
45. Turnips
46. Sweet potatoes
47. Parsnips
48. Squash
49. Zucchini
50. Mushrooms
51. Asparagus
52. Watercress

Fruits

53. Oranges
54. Apples
55. Bananas
56. Grapefruit
57. Plums
58. Peaches
59. Watermelon
60. Mango
61. Berries
62. Coconut
63. Pineapple
64. Pomegranate
65. Apricot
66. Figs
67. Grapes
68. Cantaloupe
69. Lemons
70. Pears
71. Dates
72. Papayas

These fruits are all paleo! Just be sure to eat the super sugary ones in moderation.

Seeds And Nuts

73. Almonds
74. Cashews
75. Walnuts
76. Pistachios
77. Sunflower seeds
78. Pumpkin seeds
79. Chestnuts
80. Macadamia nuts
81. Pecans
82. Sesame seeds

Spices And Herbs

83. Thyme
84. Parsley
85. Sage
86. Oregano
87. Taragon
88. Dill
89. Garlic
90. Black pepper
91. Ginger
92. Cumin
93. Vanilla
94. Turmeric
95. Cinnamon
96. Cumin

Other/Random

97. Almond butter
98. Ghee
99. Coconut oil
100. Salsa
101. Olive oil

There you go. 101 paleo diet foods. If you’re still looking for more, check out our paleo diet food list here. Enjoy!

Photo credit: Another Pint Please…

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The Ultimate Guide To Eating Paleo (Infographic)

Interested in eating paleo but not sure where to start? Our friends over Greatist created a killer infographic – the ultimate guide to eating paleo (great name!). It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking to get started with the paleo diet and want to come to understand the basics of this caveman diet in under ten minutes. Visual learners, take note!

The Ultimate Guide to Eating Paleo

Get health and fitness tips at Greatist.com

Thanks to our friends at Greatist for this great, ultimate paleo guide infographic!

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